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Megan’s Law Registration Requirements Can Drive Sex Offenders Underground

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Megan’s Law Registration Requirements Can Drive Sex Offenders Underground

February 11, 2016

Megan’s Law sex offender registration requirements exist in order to protect the public against potentially dangerous individuals who were convicted of a sex crime and later released from prison. However, a recent study found that the strict requirements imposed by Megan’s Law might actually have the unintended effect of increasing recidivism by leaving the convict with a sense of hopelessness.

According to Karen J. Terry, a professor at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York and the author of the 2015 study, many sex crime offenders end up living in dangerous neighborhoods marked by high crime rates, poor housing options and “social disorganization” because they can’t find anywhere else to live.

Sex Offender Classification in NJ

In New Jersey, the sex offender classification system may provide certain convicted sex offenders with a chance to avoid the problems that plague those convicted of sex crimes in other places. New Jersey is one of a few states that classify convicted sex offenders based on the person’s potential to commit a sex crime in the future. If a convicted sex offender is deemed to have a “high” potential to commit another sexual assault, they may face additional notification requirements in accordance with Megan’s Law. For example, a high-risk repeat offender might have to provide local law enforcement with an update on their address every few months. By contrast, a convicted sex offender who is found to have a “low” risk of committing a sexual offense in the future might only have to report their home address once per year.

One potential problem posed by NJ’s sex offender classification system is that a person convicted of a sex crime and deemed a “low-risk” offender in New Jersey may not realize that they will be subject to tougher notification requirements when they move to another state. This can lead to unknowing violations of sex offender registration conditions, landing the person in prison.

For more information on NJ sex offender registration laws, read the NJ.com article, “How Convicted Sex Offenders Fly under the Radar.”


If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual assault, criminal sexual contact or any other sex crime in New Jersey, the aggressive criminal defense lawyers at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC can help you fight the charges. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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